Meta-Analysis—Daily Dose Over 2,000mg
JAMA System Open includes a study: “Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.”
The authors are Kuan-Pin Su, MD, PhD1,2,3; Ping-Tao Tseng, MD4; Pao-Yen Lin, MD, PhD5,6,7; Ryo Okubo, MD, PhD8; Tien-Yu Chen, MD9,10,11; Yen-Wen Chen, MD12; Yutaka J. Matsuoka, MD, PhD3,8.
Anxiety, the most commonly experienced psychiatric symptom, is a psychological state derived from inappropriate or exaggerated fear leading to distress or impairment. The lifetime prevalence of any anxiety disorder is reported to be approximately 1 in 3. Anxiety is often comorbid with depressive disorders and is associated with lower health-related quality of life and increased risk of all-cause mortality. Treatment options include psychological treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacological treatments, mainly with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Individuals with anxiety and related disorders tend to be more concerned about the potential adverse effects of pharmacological treatments (eg, sedation or drug dependence) and may be reluctant to engage in psychological treatments that can be time-consuming and costly, as well as sometimes limited in availability. Thus, evidence-based and safer treatments are required, especially for anxious patients with comorbid medical conditions.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential nutrients that have potential preventive and therapeutic effects on psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression,7-15 as well as comorbid depression and anxiety in physically ill patients,16-19 patients with coronary heart disease, and pregnant women. Preclinical data support the effectiveness of omega-3 PUFAs as treatment for anxiety disorders.
Although participants and diagnoses were heterogeneous, the main finding of this meta-analysis was that omega-3 PUFAs were associated with significant reduction in anxiety symptoms compared with controls; this effect persisted vs placebo controls. Furthermore, the association of treatment with reduced anxiety symptoms of omega-3 PUFA were significantly higher in subgroups with specific clinical diagnoses than in subgroups without clinical conditions.
Interestingly, the results are also consistent with our recent findings that somatic anxiety is associated with omega-3 PUFA deficits and the genetic risks of PUFA metabolic enzyme cytosolic phospholipase A2 in major depressive disorder62,63 and interferon α–induced neuropsychiatric syndrome. Brain membranes contain a high proportion of omega-3 PUFAs and their derivatives and most animal and human studies suggest that a lack of omega-3 PUFAs in the brain might induce various behavioral and neuropsychiatric disorders,16,65-70 including anxiety-related behaviors. Emerging evidence suggests that omega-3 PUFAs interfere with and possibly control several neurobiological processes, such as neurotransmitter systems, neuroplasticity, and inflammation, which is postulated to be the mechanism underlying anxiety and depression.
“Despite the significant heterogeneity, no significant publication bias was found among these 19 studies. To evaluate the potential placebo effect, we made further subgrouping analyses. In the subgroups of studies using placebo controls, the omega-3 PUFAs still revealed a consistent positive anxiolytic association with anxiety symptoms.
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